Banataba

    04/05  | 20:30
    05/05  | 20:30
    06/05  | 15:00
    06/05  | 18:00
    07/05  | 20:30

€ 18 / € 15 (-25/65+)
± 50min
FR > NL/EN

Meet the artists after the performance on 5/05

❗ The performance will take place outdoors. Please dress warmly.

Somewhere in the storerooms of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, a wooden Lengola statuette, deemed to be without value by conservators, takes the Congolese Faustin Linyekula on a journey back to his ancestral village of Banataba. The trip is a symbolic return. It examines the history of this sculpture, removed from its original context during colonisation, with Linyekula’s own trajectory. How can the complex puzzle of his country – now the Democratic Republic of Congo – be put back together when the pieces are scattered all over the West and its major museums? For the Kunstenfestivaldesarts Linyekula takes over the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, which is still closed for visitors due to renovations. In the empty wing of the new building alongside the dancer Moya Michael, he tells of this return journey and questions through words and movement the role of the museum as a witness of the dispersal of heritage from other countries. A fiery duet that calls for history to continually be rewritten in the present.

Artistic direction
Faustin Linyekula  

Performed by
Moya Michael, Faustin Linyekula   

Video & sound
Faustin Linyekula   

Presentation
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Royal Museum for Central Africa  

Production
Studios Kabako / Virginie Dupray 

Coproduction
Metropolitan Live Arts (New York)

With the support of
the Royal Museum for Central Africa, the French Institute Alliance Française in New York (FIAF) in the framework of the Crossing the Line festival

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Objects have never really interested me. I’ve always preferred people and their stories… And yet some objects have the power to get you moving, literally… Invited to do a performance at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and to look through the museum’s collections for an object, a sign, something that would connect me to my Congo again – because wherever I go in the world, I always seems to be looking for a piece of Congo that would help me put together the pieces of this huge puzzle that has been pushed around so much by history – I came across this statue, a single arm, wood and pigment, less than a metre high, a beautiful statue to me, but considered minor and kept in the museum’s stores. This statue is the only one by the Lengola ethnic group, my mother’s tribe… and it was this object, held by one of the world’s largest museums, that several weeks later was taking us – my mother, my uncle, my cousin and I on motorbikes and dugouts – tens of thousands of kilometres away to Banataba, the village of my mother’s tribe. She hadn’t been back since 1975 when I was a year old… So why did I have to got to New York for this journey to Congo to happen, for this research to begin, for these questions to emerge… Is it possible in museums to shift an object’s discourse towards what it sets off, what it reveals in the eyes, the body, the head of the person looking at it? I therefore symbolically decided to return this statue to the land to which it belongs, to the communities for which it was designed and should speak… Because traditionally the most beautiful masks, the most beautiful statues were not locked away in the chief’s hut for the sole pleasure of the initiated, but instead stood imposingly at the public square in the middle of the village. Children played next to where dogs hung around and pissed, where termites were doing their thing, but sometimes magic happened… Aren’t masks and statues the archives of these villages, of these communities, linking the memory of ancestors to the births to come? How can these communities rediscover a link with a plundered past scattered over there? What is left of the stories from there in the museums over here? 

Faustin Linyekula

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Dancer and choreographer Faustin Linyekula lives and works in Kisangani in the DR Congo. After studying literature and drama in Kisangani, he moved to Nairobi in 1993 and in 1997 with Opiyo Okach and Afrah Tenambergen set up the Gàara company, Kenya's first contemporary dance company. Their first creation, Cleansing, won a prize at the African Choreographic Encounters held in Luanda in 1998. In 2001 he felt a need to return to Zaire which by then had become the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country torn apart by several years of bloody conflict, and a trip for a workshop scheduled to last a few weeks became a life choice. Faustin set up the Studios Kabako, an organisation for dance and visual theatre, "a place where people work, where you are always looking and sometimes you find, a place where you doubt but where some evenings certainty imposes itself". Faustin Linyekula has created ten pieces with his company. In 2009, he created more more more... future, a rock-opera-ndombolo which has toured Europe as well as North America and Africa. In 2009 he gave a rare and wonderful performance himself in the duet Sans-titre with Raimund Hoghe. That year, he also proposed a production of Jean Racine's Bérénice for the Comédie Française and Pour en finir avec Bérénice was performed with six Congolese actors at the Festival d'Avignon in July 2010 and at the Théâtre National de Chaillot and the KVS theatre in Brussels in 2011. In 2007 he won the principal award of the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development.

From September 2018 he is associated with Manège - Scène nationale of Reims in France. In 2019 he will be Associated Artist at Holland Festival in Amsterdam.

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